Transfer News: Arsenal make £53 million Kalidou Koulibay a priority summer target

The defence has been made a priority area of reinforcement in the summer for Arsenal and the Gunners have shortlisted £53 million Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

According to an exclusive report from Express, Kalidou Koulibaly’s Premier League move could still be on, albeit to a different London-based club. Arsenal have made the Napoli man a priority, but must pay the steep £53 million asking price slapped on the defender by the Serie A runners up.

Kalidou Koulibaly has been a regular at Napoli for almost four seasons now, since joining the Italian giants from Belgian club KRC Genk in the summer of 2014. 163 appearances for Napoli in all competitions under his belt, Koulibaly is regarded as one of the best defenders in Italy and Europe.

While Napoli’s attack is so revered across Europe, their defence has been equally imperious, letting in just 28 goals in the league so far. Koulibaly has contributed to the offence as well, with 5 goals in the league showing his pedigree for goals and the aerial threat that he possesses.

Dominant in the air and on the ground, robust and technically sound, Koulibaly is touted as a perfect fit for the Premier League. There has been no dearth of interest in the 26-year-old either, with Chelsea being sounded out by many reports as the Senegalese international’s destination for a while.

But, Chelsea chose to sign Antonio Rudiger from fellow Italian club AS Roma and there has been no further reports of the Blues making Koulibaly a priority signing come summer. With Maurizio Sarri tipped to be the next Chelsea boss, Koulibaly and a few other Napoli players might be on the manager’s shortlist, should he end up as the Blues’ manager.

One club that has made the 26-year-old their priority though, is Arsenal. Arsene Wenger is set to depart and the incoming manager would love to have better defensive options at his disposal, especially given the nature and form of the current players.

Laurent Koscielny is not the same defender he was a season ago while the likes of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding have failed to challenge Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi throughout the season. Mustafi himself has been linked with a move away from the club, which makes defensive reinforcement a priority.

Despite being an established figure at Napoli, who also have Champions League football to provide for the upcoming season unlike Arsenal and Chelsea, 26-year-old Koulibaly could be tempted to move to Arsenal for the lure of playing in a league as illustrious as the Premier League.

Also, in case Sarri does end up leaving, Koulibaly could prefer a move, with the prospect of an unknown manager taking charge at Napoli. Napoli though, have placed a £53 million price tag on the 26-year-old – a fee that might seem steep usually, but is now reasonable after Liverpool broke the record for the highest fee for a defender when signing Virgil van Dijk in January.

Putting the right foot ahead. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Putting the right foot ahead. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

To many, Koulibaly might seem the perfect replacement for Per Mertesacker, who hung up his boots, and also a player who reminds Arsenal fans of the era of Sol Campbell and others. Arsenal too, might be prepared to shell out the big bucks if Koulibaly does seem open to the move, provided the incoming manager does give the green signal for the pursuit.

Change is in the offing at Arsenal, and who knows, Koulibaly might be the one to spearhead the ushering of a new dawn at the Emirates.

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